Every year on the Feast of Corpus Christi a long procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament winds its way right through the centre of this renowned university town.
And so also this year.
In the early afternoon of Sunday 6th June a steady stream of participants gathered at the Oxford Oratory, the starting point of the procession.
Once on their way singing traditional hymns to the cheery sounds of a brass band, alternated by decades of the rosary, the sheer ‘catholicity’ of these ‘afternoon pilgrims’ became evident: young and old, pregnant women and small babies, people from all continents, men and women in casual summer outfit, relaxed yet attentive, young men in university gowns, Franciscan friars in full habit.
Black Friars, the Dominican Residence, was our first stop. Here Robert Ombres OP managed to hold everyone’s attention with a quip and a skilfully simplified explanation of some aspects of Thomas Aquinas’s theology of the Eucharist. His concept of ‘Viaticum‘ – food for the journey – seemed a most apt symbol for the occasion.
From there the 300 – 400 persons strong procession wound its way through the centre of town, taking less busy side streets to avoid congestion, on the way to the Jesuit-run University Chaplaincy. By-standers everywhere looked with genuine amazement at this unusual ‘parade’ – ‘What is this?’ ‘I think it is Christian’.
We finished with Benediction and a stirring rendering of Faith of Our Fathers.
After a glass of water/tea and a biscuit kindly offered by the chaplaincy the warm bright sun outside seemed irresistible.
A memorable afternoon indeed!
Fons Eppink mhm